Storm barrels into US north-east (video)

Other News Materials 4 December 2007 12:55 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - Drivers in much of the US north-east navigated a treacherous mix of rain, sleet and snow as a storm blamed for at least 16 deaths blanketed the region.

Schools cancelled or delayed classes from New York to Maine as the region's first snowstorm of the season whipped up winds gusting to 64 km/h.

At the same time, a new storm system wreaking havoc on the West Coast was expected to give the Midwest a second blast of snow.

The US National Weather Service said 33 cm of snow was possible in the mountains of northern New England, with the potential for 50 cm in northern Maine. Winter storm warnings were in effect in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and northern and western New York.

"It's snowing so hard you can hardly keep your eyes open," said Bill Swain, spokesman for Maine's Sugarloaf USA ski area in Carrabassett Valley.

Icy or wet pavement was blamed for four deaths in Michigan, three in Wisconsin, two each in New Jersey and Ohio, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Dakota and Colorado. One of the New Jersey deaths occurred during the night in a 15-car pileup that also injured 28 people, police said.

Hundreds of flights into the New York City area's three main airports - Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia - and at Chicago's O'Hare were delayed over the weekend.

Nearly 26,000 customers were without power about noon in Connecticut. Power outages in north-east Ohio and north-west Pennsylvania had blacked out more than 20,000 customers.

On the opposite side of the US, a new storm system hammered the Northwest with wind gusting higher than 160 km/h in some spots.

Mudslides halted north-south Amtrak passenger train service between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Utilities said about 70,000 homes and businesses were blocked out in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

The Northwest's severe weather was expected to reach the Upper Midwest with snow, the weather service in Minneapolis said.